Getting divorced can be a painful and stressful process for everyone involved. Aside from child support, spousal support can be one of the most emotionally difficult parts of divorce, and rightly so — one spouse wants to make sure that they receive the money that they are legally entitled to while the other doesn’t want to pay out any more money than they have to.

These are the times when it is helpful to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side to ensure your legal rights are protected. The Law Office of Jeffrey W. Hannah is here to help you understand the California spousal support process and in today’s post, we’ll answer five of the most frequently asked questions on the matter. Let’s get started.

Five Questions About California Spousal Support

What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support, which is sometimes referred to as alimony, is the legal term for payments made from one spouse to another during and after a divorce so that the payee spouse can maintain the standard of living they have become accustomed to during the marriage. Several factors are considered when awarding spousal support, which we will cover in detail later in our discussion. California recognizes two different types of spousal support: temporary and permanent.

What Is the Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Spousal Support?

Temporary spousal support orders are granted during a legal separation or divorce proceedings so that a spouse who has an economic disadvantage can maintain their standard of living while they are getting divorced. A permanent spousal support order is granted when the issue of spousal support has been resolved and there is a final judgment made in the legal separation or divorce proceedings.

While temporary spousal support is designed to be just that — temporary — this is not to say that permanent spousal support will continue indefinitely. The duration of a permanent spousal support order largely depends on how long a couple was married.

What Does the Court Consider When Awarding Support?

As we mentioned earlier, there are many factors taken into consideration when determining the amount and duration of permanent spousal support that will be awarded. It is important to note that the courts only become involved if you and your spouse cannot agree on an amount during your divorce proceedings. Additionally, the court is not required to award spousal support, but rather, can use its discretion to either award or deny support. Some of the factors the court will consider include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • Each spouse’s financial needs based on their standard of living during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s debts and assets
  • Each spouse’s ability to maintain their standard of living given their earning capacities
  • If and to what extent the supported spouse contributed to the paying spouse’s education and career.
  • The ability of the paying spouse to pay spousal support

These are just a few of the factors considered by the court when they are reviewing whether spousal support will be awarded or not. If you have concerns about your unique situation, our team is happy to speak with you so that we can best represent your needs during your divorce proceedings and after your divorce is final.

Can Spousal Support Orders Be Modified?

The amount and duration of spousal support can be modified as long as the original order doesn’t have any language that prevents modifications. Either spouse can request modification, either through mutual agreement or by taking the matter back to court. Paying spouses can also request the support order be terminated if they can prove that current circumstances warrant the cessation of payments. If you have questions about whether or not it is appropriate or possible to modify or terminate an existing spousal support order, please contact our office.

What Is the “10-Year Rule”?

If you and your spouse have been married for 10 years or more, then the “10-year rule” may apply to your spousal support case. Some people interpret this to mean that they’ll be guaranteed spousal support for the rest of their lives if they remain married for at least 10 years. This is not the case.

However, marriages of 10 years or more are considered marriages of long duration, and under California law, the court cannot set a termination date at the time of the divorce proceedings. It can, however, set a termination date that ends support at a certain time in the future unless the payee spouse applies for an extension on or before the termination date.

Questions About Spousal Support in Sacramento?

Do you have questions about spousal support that were not addressed in today’s post? If so, the team here at the Law Office of Jeffrey W. Hanna is here to help. During your initial consultation, Mr. Hannah and his staff will speak with you to understand your unique situation so that we can devise a strategy to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome on your spousal support case. Contact us today to request your consultation and learn more about our legal services.